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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dialoguing with Islam on: July 01, 2014, 09:10:30 AM
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 01, 2014, 08:10:46 AM

The IDF was considering its next move in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, following the finding of the bodies of the three Israeli kidnapped teens. "We're preparing a plan to advance an operation in the Strip. The objective is to avoid escalation and act responsibly," an IDF source said. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out 34 attacks on terrorist targets in several different sections of the Gaza Strip overnight, targeting structures and even some open areas, the IDF spokesperson confirmed late Tuesday. The attack's objective was "to prevent the continuation of rocket fire at Israel. If we see Hamas heading towards a confrontation, we'll go there," the source said. According to the reports, one of the areas was a site in the area of Khan Yunis controlled by Hamas' military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, where 4 were said to be wounded and another missing. Attacks were also reported near Rafah in the southern area of the Strip on structures belonging to other terrorist organizations active in the area. The IDF Spokesperson said that the Monday night attack was in response to a rocket fired earlier by Arab Palestinian terrorists that struck an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council.

The cabinet was torn overnight Monday over Israel's response to the murder of three Israeli teenagers - Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer - who were kidnapped over two weeks ago, and whose bodies were found Monday evening. The emergency meeting ended after three hours without reaching a decision being made. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett was furious at the army's suggested to bomb several empty structures in the Gaza Strip, saying a much stronger response was required. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni lashed out at Bennett for that, advocating for a more measured response. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded the discussion by saying a strong response was needed, but did not offer one.
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: July 01, 2014, 01:31:44 AM
I remember there was something about us helping them out with nuke tech in a way that was less than 100% IAEA approved or something like that.  What else?
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sun causes climate change on: June 30, 2014, 08:53:26 PM
I've only given this a very quick read, but if I read it correctly it is quite significant: 
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Seven Letters to Write Before you turn 70 on: June 30, 2014, 08:07:42 PM
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: June 30, 2014, 07:32:45 PM
I strongly agree that India seems a natural ally to the US in the world today.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Rand Paul on: June 30, 2014, 07:28:41 PM
I have similar thoughts Mike. 

Good to see you posting.
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq will bypass Congress , , , again on: June 30, 2014, 07:27:26 PM 
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 30, 2014, 07:24:02 PM
If I am not mistaken, the actual question presented was an ACA regulation vs. the Religious Freedom law.
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Antarctic ice set new record on: June 30, 2014, 07:22:31 PM
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'Real News' sites on: June 30, 2014, 01:59:00 PM
Mike, your analysis of AJ adn methodology with regard to him seem sound to me.  However, just to be clear, we do not regard AJ as a source worthy of citing here.  cheesy
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Shapiro: Why atheism is morally bankrupt on: June 30, 2014, 01:55:46 PM
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Stiglitz: Inequality is not Inevitable on: June 30, 2014, 01:47:21 PM

Inequality Is Not Inevitable
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ (didn't he win a Nobel at one point? Not sure , , ,)   
June 27, 2014 6:16 pm
The Great Divide

AN insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality?

One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration.

This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Piketty’s work, which provides an institutional context for understanding the deepening of inequality over time. Unfortunately, that part of his analysis received somewhat less attention than the more fatalistic-seeming aspects.

Over the past year and a half, The Great Divide, a series in The New York Times for which I have served as moderator, has also presented a wide range of examples that undermine the notion that there are any truly fundamental laws of capitalism. The dynamics of the imperial capitalism of the 19th century needn’t apply in the democracies of the 21st. We don’t need to have this much inequality in America.

Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism. For proof of this go back to our response to the Great Recession, where we socialized losses, even as we privatized gains. Perfect competition should drive profits to zero, at least theoretically, but we have monopolies and oligopolies making persistently high profits. C.E.O.s enjoy incomes that are on average 295 times that of the typical worker, a much higher ratio than in the past, without any evidence of a proportionate increase in productivity.

If it is not the inexorable laws of economics that have led to America’s great divide, what is it? The straightforward answer: our policies and our politics. People get tired of hearing about Scandinavian success stories, but the fact of the matter is that Sweden, Finland and Norway have all succeeded in having about as much or faster growth in per capita incomes than the United States and with far greater equality.

So why has America chosen these inequality-enhancing policies? Part of the answer is that as World War II faded into memory, so too did the solidarity it had engendered. As America triumphed in the Cold War, there didn’t seem to be a viable competitor to our economic model. Without this international competition, we no longer had to show that our system could deliver for most of our citizens.

Ideology and interests combined nefariously. Some drew the wrong lesson from the collapse of the Soviet system. The pendulum swung from much too much government there to much too little here. Corporate interests argued for getting rid of regulations, even when those regulations had done so much to protect and improve our environment, our safety, our health and the economy itself.

But this ideology was hypocritical. The bankers, among the strongest advocates of laissez-faire economics, were only too willing to accept hundreds of billions of dollars from the government in the bailouts that have been a recurring feature of the global economy since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era of “free” markets and deregulation.

The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game to ensure this outcome; that is, through politics.

So corporate welfare increases as we curtail welfare for the poor. Congress maintains subsidies for rich farmers as we cut back on nutritional support for the needy. Drug companies have been given hundreds of billions of dollars as we limit Medicaid benefits. The banks that brought on the global financial crisis got billions while a pittance went to the homeowners and victims of the same banks’ predatory lending practices. This last decision was particularly foolish. There were alternatives to throwing money at the banks and hoping it would circulate through increased lending. We could have helped underwater homeowners and the victims of predatory behavior directly. This would not only have helped the economy, it would have put us on the path to robust recovery.

OUR divisions are deep. Economic and geographic segregation have immunized those at the top from the problems of those down below. Like the kings of yore, they have come to perceive their privileged positions essentially as a natural right. How else to explain the recent comments of the venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who suggested that criticism of the 1 percent was akin to Nazi fascism, or those coming from the private equity titan Stephen A. Schwarzman, who compared asking financiers to pay taxes at the same rate as those who work for a living to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Our economy, our democracy and our society have paid for these gross inequities. The true test of an economy is not how much wealth its princes can accumulate in tax havens, but how well off the typical citizen is — even more so in America where our self-image is rooted in our claim to be the great middle-class society. But median incomes are lower than they were a quarter-century ago. Growth has gone to the very, very top, whose share has almost quadrupled since 1980. Money that was meant to have trickled down has instead evaporated in the balmy climate of the Cayman Islands.

With almost a quarter of American children younger than 5 living in poverty, and with America doing so little for its poor, the deprivations of one generation are being visited upon the next. Of course, no country has ever come close to providing complete equality of opportunity. But why is America one of the advanced countries where the life prospects of the young are most sharply determined by the income and education of their parents?

Among the most poignant stories in The Great Divide were those that portrayed the frustrations of the young, who yearn to enter our shrinking middle class. Soaring tuitions and declining incomes have resulted in larger debt burdens. Those with only a high school diploma have seen their incomes decline by 13 percent over the past 35 years.

Where justice is concerned, there is also a yawning divide. In the eyes of the rest of the world and a significant part of its own population, mass incarceration has come to define America — a country, it bears repeating, with about 5 percent of the world’s population but around a fourth of the world’s prisoners.

Justice has become a commodity, affordable to only a few. While Wall Street executives used their high-retainer lawyers to ensure that their ranks were not held accountable for the misdeeds that the crisis in 2008 so graphically revealed, the banks abused our legal system to foreclose on mortgages and evict people, some of whom did not even owe money.

More than a half-century ago, America led the way in advocating for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Today, access to health care is among the most universally accepted rights, at least in the advanced countries. America, despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is the exception. It has become a country with great divides in access to health care, life expectancy and health status.

In the relief that many felt when the Supreme Court did not overturn the Affordable Care Act, the implications of the decision for Medicaid were not fully appreciated. Obamacare’s objective — to ensure that all Americans have access to health care — has been stymied: 24 states have not implemented the expanded Medicaid program, which was the means by which Obamacare was supposed to deliver on its promise to some of the poorest.

We need not just a new war on poverty but a war to protect the middle class. Solutions to these problems do not have to be newfangled. Far from it. Making markets act like markets would be a good place to start. We must end the rent-seeking society we have gravitated toward, in which the wealthy obtain profits by manipulating the system.

The problem of inequality is not so much a matter of technical economics. It’s really a problem of practical politics. Ensuring that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes — ending the special privileges of speculators, corporations and the rich — is both pragmatic and fair. We are not embracing a politics of envy if we reverse a politics of greed. Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all. If we spent more on education, health and infrastructure, we would strengthen our economy, now and in the future. Just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it again.

We have located the underlying source of the problem: political inequities and policies that have commodified and corrupted our democracy. It is only engaged citizens who can fight to restore a fairer America, and they can do so only if they understand the depths and dimensions of the challenge. It is not too late to restore our position in the world and recapture our sense of who we are as a nation. Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves.

This is the last article in The Great Divide.
214  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Trucker and the Trooper on: June 30, 2014, 01:33:13 PM
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 6.9 million multiple voters in 28 states on: June 30, 2014, 01:03:55 PM 
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spengler It is good or bad for America? on: June 30, 2014, 12:45:33 PM

“It neither helps us nor hurts us, but exactly the opposite,” Mexican President Luis Echeverria is supposed to have said (“Ni nos benefica ni nos perjudica, sino todo lo contrario”). In the case of Iraq, as so often, it depends: the winner is the side best able to bear the burden of uncertainty. America should be the winner when our prospective enemies fight each other (as I argued in the February 2012 essay reposted below). In the language of option trading (see here), we should be long volatility, but instead are short volatility. That is because neither the Obama administration nor the Republican mainstream can admit that Iraq and Syria are not to be stabilized, and are stuck with the onus of apparent policy failure.

Iraq’s woes surely are good for the Russians and the Iranians. Russia just delivered five Sukhoi 25′s, their nimbler but less powerful competitor to our Warthog close-air-defense fighter (that’s the one the Pentagon proposes to eliminate), the first installment on a $500 million contract for a dozen of them. Russia also is selling $2 billion of arms, including attack helicopters, to Egypt, and with Saudi funding. The Iranians meanwhile have sent in special forces and armaments.

All of this makes our leadership in both parties look like idiots, and that is bad for America. Even those of us who think that our leadership are idiots cringe when it becomes obvious to the rest of the world. The American public by a margin of 71:22 thinks that the Iraq War wasn’t worth it. They are against any sort of intervention because there is no-one they trust to conduct intervention sensibly.

Putin is not smarter than we are. He is simply unburdened by the illusion that most of the countries in the region should or will succeed, and he is willing to stay one jump ahead of the game, maneuvering for advantage as opportunities emerge. We are fettered by Obama’s affirmative-action approach to the Muslim world as articulated in his July 2009 Cairo address and numerous subsequent statements, and the Republicans’ ideological belief that the mere form of parliamentary democracy fixes all problems.

The intrusion of reality benefits the likes of Putin, because Putin is a realist. It hurts us, because we refuse to accept reality. Our leaders live in ideological bubbles; they are incapable of considering the consequence of their errors, because they believe in their respective causes (the innate goodness of Islam or the innate propensity of people towards democracy) with religious intensity.

The U.S. needs to draw a line around its allies — the Gulf states and the kingdom of Jordan — and ensure that the ISIS problem is contained at their borders. What happens inside Iraq is not our concern, although we might want to quietly tweak this or that aspect of the facts on the ground. But it is pointless for another American to die in that miserable place. The Balkans, said Bismarck, wasn’t worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. All the less so Mesopotamia.

What should we do in Iraq? Be the bad guy in the “Three Musketeers.”

Read my essay on the next page.

Conjuring the ghost of Richelieu
By Spengler

“The Pont d’Alma,” I told the taxi driver, and climbed into the back of the Citroen, balancing the big copper spittoon on one knee and the magnum of Chateau Petrus on the other.

“You are to meet someone, monsieur?,” inquired the driver. He must have seen the waders under my trench coat. “Richelieu. Richelieu. Richelieu,” I muttered. “That’s the first time I hear someone ask for it in dactylic hexameter,” the driver said. We pulled up in front of the entrance to the sewers of Paris at the Pont d’Alma – “the bridge of the soul”.

Carefully I descended to the ninth level below the Seine. And 20th-century tiles gave way to 19th-century bricks and 18th-century stonework, through the malodorous filth of the ages, until I found myself in the secret ossarium of the Carthusian monks. So thick was the darkness that the beam from my small flashlight

seemed to lose itself in the gloom. It could not have been cold, but I shivered uncontrollably. Pyramided skulls stared out like a theater audience.

With the spittoon planted into the muck at my feet, I broke the neck off the magnum and poured the fragrant Bordeaux into the copper receptacle. At once the ghosts appeared: A soldier in bloody armor carrying his head under one arm, the Can-Can chorus from Offenbach’s Orpheus, a grisette whom death could not dissuade from flirting, clerks, cooks and clerics.

A sad-faced Jaures and a prim Clemenceau approached the spittoon, but Francois Mitterand bowed them aside. Brandishing the wine bottle’s jagged neck, I fended them off until, at length, a pale figure appeared, a human form with the texture of a jellyfish. The others shrank away reverently as it knelt before the spittoon and inserted a gelatinous head, imbibing the wine until its translucent covering shone scarlet. It extracted its head from the spittoon with an ectoplasmic pop.

“Make it brief,” said Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu. He looked rather like the portrait by Phillipe de Champaigne, but sounded like Maurice Chevalier.

“We are a bit confused about Syria,” I began. “Its leader, Bashar al-Assad, is slaughtering his own people to suppress an uprising. And he is allied to Iran, which wants to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the region. If we overthrow Assad, Sunni radicals will replace him, and take revenge on the Syrian minorities. And a radical Sunni government in Syria would ally itself with the Sunni minority next door in Iraq and make civil war more likely.”

“I don’t understand the question,” Richelieu replied.

“Everyone is killing each other in Syria and some other places in the region, and the conflict might spread. What should we do about it?”

“How much does this cost you?”

“Nothing at all,” I answered.

“Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know,” the ghastly Cardinal continued, “why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren’t usually enough men left for a third iteration.”

“We can’t go around saying that,” I remonstrated.

“I didn’t say it, either,” Richelieu replied. “But I managed to reduce the population of the German Empire by half in the space of a generation and make France the dominant land power in Europe for two centuries.

“Isn’t there some way to stabilize these countries?” I asked.

Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. “It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba’athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi’ites.

It is a matter of calculation – what today you would call game theory. If you compose a state from antagonistic elements to begin with, the rulers must come from one of the minorities. All the minorities will then feel safe, and the majority knows that there is a limit to how badly a minority can oppress a majority. That is why the Ba’ath Party regimes in Iraq and Syria – tyrannies founded on the same principle – were mirror images of each other.”

“What happens if the majority rules?,” I asked.

“The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world,” the cardinal replied, “you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression.

“The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem.

The Shi’ites have the oil, but the Sunnis want some of the revenue, and it is easier for the Shi’ites to share the revenue than to kill the Sunnis. On the other hand, the problem is exacerbated by the presence of an aggressive neighbor who also wants the oil.”

“So civil war is more likely because of Iran?”

“Yes,” said the shade, “and not only in Iraq. Without support from Iran, the Syrian Alawites – barely an eighth of the people – could not hope to crush the Sunnis. Iran will back Assad and the Alawites until the end, because if the Sunnis come to power in Syria, it will make it harder for Iran to suppress the Sunnis in Iraq. As I said, it is a matter of simple logic. Next time you visit, bring a second bottle of Petrus, and my friend Descartes will draw a diagram for you.”

“So the best thing we can do to stabilize the region is to neutralize Iran?”

“Bingeaux!” Richelieu replied.

“But there are people in the United States, like the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who say that attacking Iran would destabilize everything!”

“Such fools would not have lasted a week in my service,” the cardinal sniffed. “Again, it is a matter of simple logic. If Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons is removed by force, upon whom shall it avenge itself? No doubt its irregulars in Lebanon will shoot some missiles at Israel, but not so many as to provoke the Israelis to destroy Hezbollah. Iran might undertake acts of terrorism, but at the risk of fierce reprisals. Without nuclear weapons, Iran becomes a declining power with obsolete weapons and an indifferent conscript army.”

Richelieu’s shade already had lost some color. “What should the United States do in Syria?” I asked.

“As little as possible,” he replied. “Some anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from Gaddafi’s stockpiles, enough to encourage the opposition and prevent Assad from crushing them, and without making it obvious who sent them.”

“And what will become of Syria?”

The cardinal said sourly, “The same thing will happen to the present occupants of Syria that happened to the previous occupants: the Assyrians, and the Seleucids, and the Byzantines before them. You seem to think the Syrians are at existential risk because they are fighting to the death. On the contrary: they are fighting to the death because they were at existential risk before the first shot was fired. They have no oil. They do not even have water. They manufacture nothing. They cling to ancient hatred as a drowning man grasps a stone.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do about it?” I shouted.

But Richelieu had turned back into a cardinal-shaped jellyfish, and if he gave an answer, I could not hear it. As the he faded, the other ghosts crept out of the stonework and encircled me. Among them I recognized a miracle-working rabbi of Chelm, who screamed, “Spengler! What are you doing here, conjuring spirits of the dead?” I tried to say, “Rabbi, I don’t eat here!” but my lips wouldn’t move and my tongue burned. I woke up with an unspeakable hangover, next to an empty Armagnac bottle and a copy of the Weekly Standard.
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'Real News' sites on: June 30, 2014, 12:41:16 PM
I share the sentiments about Alex Jones. 
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel's partners in peace on: June 30, 2014, 12:36:40 PM
219  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Barney Fife goes Delta Force on: June 30, 2014, 12:32:30 PM
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some quasi-treason from Pelosi on: June 29, 2014, 02:59:34 PM 
221  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Summer 2014 DBMA Training Camp July 19-20 on: June 29, 2014, 02:32:02 PM
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Great Lakes water level returning to normal on: June 29, 2014, 10:57:58 AM 
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama seeks $2B on: June 29, 2014, 10:54:22 AM
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: June 29, 2014, 10:45:25 AM
Given her silent tolerance of Bill's many affairs, the irony here is biting
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Prodigy Magnus Carlsen on: June 29, 2014, 10:31:23 AM
Magnus Carlsen's Parents on Raising the World's Best Chess Player
The family of the unmatched chess prodigy gave him time to find his passion, but never went easy on him
By Alex Clark
June 26, 2014 2:26 p.m. ET

CHECK MATES | Magnus, at his office in Oslo, with his mother, Sigrun, and father, Henrik, a keen chess player himself who developed his son's skills at an early age by not playing down to his level. Photography by Colin Dodgson for WSJ. Magazine

HOW DO YOU SPOT a chess prodigy? Is there a moment—perhaps when he makes a boldly brilliant move out of nowhere or plasters his bedroom with pinups of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov—when it all becomes clear?

Well, that wasn't quite how it happened for Henrik Carlsen and Sigrun Øen, parents of 23-year-old Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian who became a grandmaster at 13 and the youngest-ever world No. 1 at 19, and whose peak World Chess Federation rating (2,882) is the highest in history. Last November, Carlsen defeated Viswanathan Anand to become the World Chess Champion, a title he will defend against Anand later this year in a yet-to-be-decided location—possibly Norway.

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen gives a thoughtful interview about his life in chess...and then he beats WSJ's Jonathan Zalman in about thirty seconds.

Carlsen's route to chess took a little longer than his subsequent stellar progression might suggest. Henrik, 52, a keen chess player himself, remembers introducing the game to Magnus and his older sister, Ellen, now 25, when his son was turning 5. But after a month or two, Henrik says, "I gave up, basically, in the sense that we continued to play chess occasionally, but I didn't have any ambitions." He knew that legendary players such as Capablanca and Kasparov had understood the game—he clicks his fingers—"just like that." Magnus and his sister, he says, "learned the rules quickly, and they could capture a piece, but to get two or more pieces working together, which is what chess is about, this spatial vision took a long time."

At the time, Henrik reconciled himself to the fact that chess would simply be an enjoyable family pastime. "I felt, OK, they're definitely not geniuses, but it doesn't matter. Because, I mean, we loved our children. Chess was something we could do together, just a hobby, like playing cards or anything else." In the meantime, there were signs that Magnus had the aptitude and the determination to perform impressive mental feats. Sigrun, 51, recalls her son sitting for hours with puzzles or making advanced Lego models, patiently working his way through pages and pages of instructions meant for children a decade older. "He had the ability to sit for a very long time, even when he was small," she recalls.

This quality has contributed in no small measure to his success; chess commentators draw attention to his ability to wear down opponents, to wait patiently for them to make the tiniest mistake. Magnus himself maintains that he is an aggressive player but that audacity isn't always what's called for. "When you play against the best people in the world, they see through your plans, and you cannot win with a swashbuckling attack all the time," he says. "You just need to take what's there."

His parents are eager to point out that he wasn't an obviously faster learner than his sisters (he also has two younger siblings, Ingrid, 20, and Signe, 17) but that he kept on going, focusing his attention on a specific subject, such as car brands, until he knew it inside out. When I ask Magnus about his childhood proficiency, he replies simply: "I didn't particularly know if I was good at it or not; I just tried to do it."

    “ "I felt, OK, they're definitely not geniuses, but it doesn't matter. Chess was something we could do together, just a hobby." ”
    —–Henrik Carlsen

Then came a turning point. Just before Magnus turned 8, says Henrik, "Ellen suddenly understood enough to make it interesting for me to play with her." Magnus would sit to watch them and, a little later, join in. Henrik's dilemma was that if he adopted poor strategy, his children wouldn't learn anything, but he also didn't want them to become discouraged. So he began to play with limited resources—just his king and a pawn—slowly adding pieces as they learned the game. Magnus's interest started to grow, although Henrik maintains that "he just wanted to beat his sister." He had a competitive streak even as a small child? "Yes, absolutely," Sigrun says, "he still has that." More competitive than his sisters? "Absolutely." She laughs and gestures to her husband. "It's not from me, it's from him!"

Soon he was entering and very quickly winning tournaments. At home, during dinner, he began sitting apart from the family so he could study his chessboard while eating. "He was in the same room," remembers Sigrun, "so we could speak to him if we wanted to; he could hear what we were talking about if he wanted to join." Despite their unorthodox meals, they were, and remain, a close family.
Enlarge Image

WHIZ KID | Magnus at 13, playing Belarus grandmaster Alexei Fedorov in 2004's Dubai Open Chess Championship. ©Anwar Mirza/Reuters/Corbis
Enlarge Image

Competing in 2013's Sinquefield Cup ©Brian Cahn/Zuma Press/Corbis

There's a particular bond between father and son, forged through a mutual love of chess. When Magnus was 12, Henrik took a year's leave of absence from his job (he has spent recent years balancing his consultancy work in the oil industry with managing Magnus's affairs) and took the children out of school so they could travel together throughout Europe, an experience that Magnus remembers as "more useful than staying in school that year." Now, he says, he realizes that a certain family resemblance is developing. "I think I'm becoming more like my father in a way," he says, laughing. "I'm cracking the same lame jokes!" Many sons probably find themselves saying the same thing, but in the Carlsens' case, there's another dimension. "Whenever I lose," Magnus explains, "usually I want to be alone, figure it out. A couple of times I've lost and I've been complaining to my father about it, and he says, 'Just get up and stop whining.' I think that's the best advice I ever got."

Sigrun, an engineer like her husband, is not a chess player, although she's started to dabble with Play Magnus, an app that allows you to test your skills against the champion at various stages in his career. She describes herself as an introvert and dislikes the attention Magnus's celebrity has brought, particularly when people approach him in the street. This happens even more now that he is modeling for clothing company G-Star Raw, whose most recent ad campaign features him playing chess with the British model-actress Lily Cole. (Henrik remembers the reaction of Magnus's sisters when his career took a turn toward fashion modeling: "He got a lot of credit for that. They thought, OK, now you're getting somewhere!")

Although Sigrun insists that she's not starstruck by all the attention heaped on Magnus ("I really don't think so much about him as a world champion in chess," she says, "because he's my son"), she did have to work through an emotional barrier when he was 9 years old and starting to compete regularly. As she watched him play in a match, all Sigrun could see was a little boy who looked unhappy, hunched over a board as if he were struggling. Naturally, all she wanted to do was take him home. Afterward, she asked him if the contest had been painful for him. He looked at her with a blank, uncomprehending stare. No, he replied, he'd been having fun and was merely lost in thought. Now, says Sigrun, "I just want him to be happy. And as long as he's happy, he can do whatever he wants."
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Defense vs. The Techies on: June 29, 2014, 10:25:41 AM 
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Impeach corrupt officials, not seek special counsel; Boener's plan is feckless on: June 29, 2014, 10:17:01 AM
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Vacuous Foreign Policy on: June 29, 2014, 10:14:42 AM
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Vacuous Foreign Policy on: June 29, 2014, 10:14:06 AM
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Looking back at Iraq on: June 29, 2014, 10:07:03 AM


Effort to retake Tikrit stalls , , ,
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: June 29, 2014, 09:52:51 AM
 Chronology: Key Dynamics Leading to Renewed Sunni Militancy in the Levant
June 29, 2014 | 0613 Print Text Size
A Chronology of Recent Militancy in Syria and Iraq Read more: A Chronology of Recent Militancy in Syria and Iraq
A Kurdish soldier stands guard near the front line with Sunni militants on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 25. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Ever since Sunni rebels pushed Iraqi government forces out of Mosul, the mainstream media and most analysts have rushed to point out the threat posed by the militants' goal of creating a transnational polity in eastern Syria and western Iraq. Stratfor has long forecast that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's efforts to exploit the conflict in Syria would have major repercussions on Iraqi security. Below is a chronology of analyses on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's aims to create a singular battle space in Syria and Iraq, where the militant group seeks to form a medieval-style emirate, and the major obstacles in its path.
Jihadist Opportunities in Syria

    Feb. 14, 2012: In an eight-minute video clip titled "Onward, Lions of Syria" disseminated on the Internet Feb. 12, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri expressed al Qaeda's support for the popular unrest in Syria. In it, al-Zawahiri urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels battling Damascus. The statement comes just days after a McClatchy report quoted unnamed American intelligence officials as saying that the Iraqi node of the global jihadist network carried out two attacks against Syrian intelligence facilities in Damascus, while Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi said in a recent interview with AFP that Iraqi jihadists were moving fighters and weapons into neighboring Syria.

Jordan's Reluctance To Confront Syria

    April 13, 2012: Amman is facing pressure from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to take a stronger stance against the Syrian regime, specifically by backing Syrian rebels against the Iranian-backed Alawite government in Damascus. Jordan is the most logical conduit for Arab support, supplies and fighters to enter Syria. The GCC, led by Saudi Arabia, will try to entice Jordan into serving as the staging ground for Arab intervention in Syria and, by extension, countering Iranian and Shia influence in the region. While it aligns with the Gulf Arab monarchies on most issues, Jordan has a unique historical relationship with Syria and its own set of concerns that will significantly restrain its actions to undermine the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Considering a Sunni Regime in Syria

    July 10, 2012: Last week's publicized defection of the Tlass family marked a potential turning point for Syria's al Assad regime. The Tlass family formed the main pillar of Sunni support for the minority Alawite regime. The patriarch of the family, former Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, had a strategic, brotherly bond with late Syrian President Hafez al Assad. The two military men served as members of the ruling Baath Party in Cairo from 1958 to 1961 when Syria and Egypt existed under the Nasserite vision of the United Arab Republic. The failure of that project brought them back home, where together they helped bring the Baath Party to power in 1963 and sustained a violent period of coups, purges and countercoups through the 1960s.

The Consequences of Intervening in Syria

    Jan. 31, 2013: The French military's current campaign to dislodge jihadist militants from northern Mali and the recent high-profile attack against a natural gas facility in Algeria are both directly linked to the foreign intervention in Libya that overthrew the Gadhafi regime. There is also a strong connection between these events and foreign powers' decision not to intervene in Mali when the military conducted a coup in March 2012. The coup occurred as thousands of heavily armed Tuareg tribesmen were returning home to northern Mali after serving in Moammar Gadhafi's military, and the confluence of these events resulted in an implosion of the Malian military and a power vacuum in the north. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadists were able to take advantage of this situation to seize power in the northern part of the African nation.

Jihadists Seek a New Base in Syria and Iraq

    May 28, 2013: Al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to use the Syrian conflict to reignite sectarian warfare in Iraq and thereby create an uninterrupted operating space stretching from Iraq to Lebanon. Since mid-May alone, more than 300 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in bombings by suspected jihadists across Iraq that have largely targeted the country's Shiite population. The jihadists sense a historic opportunity to acquire their largest and most significant area of operation since the movement was based in Afghanistan before the 2001 U.S. invasion. However, they still face several constraints that will enable the Iraqi government and its Iranian backers to contain the spillover into Iraq, at least for the near term.

A Revolt Within the al Qaeda Movement

    June 20, 2013: In a June 15 audio message, a man identified as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, did something no leader of an al Qaeda franchise had ever done: He publicly defied a directive from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the al Qaeda core organization. As we have noted for many years, the al Qaeda core has struggled to remain relevant on the physical and ideological battlefields. We've also discussed since 2005 the internal frictions between the core and some of the more independent franchise commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq until his death in June 2006. If al-Baghdadi's revolt goes unchecked, it very well might spell the end of the concept of a global, centrally directed jihad, and it could be the next step in the devolution of the jihadist movement as it becomes even more regionally focused.

Turkey's Options to Manage Syrian Kurds and Jihadists

    July 31, 2013: A concern shared by most countries is the prospect that Syria, in light of its ongoing civil war, could become an arena for transnational jihadism. But for Syria's northern neighbor Turkey, an even graver concern is the prospect of Kurdish separatism. In fact, Syrian Kurds already are trying to create an autonomous zone akin to the one located in northern Iraq. Ankara has no choice but to pit jihadists and Kurdish separatists against one another in hopes of obstructing the zone's creation. But in doing so Turkey risks impeding its own geopolitical ascendance.

Are There Moderate Salafists and Jihadists?

    Dec. 5, 2013: The United States is trying to recruit moderate Salafist-jihadist rebels in Syria for its fight against al Qaeda, but Washington may not be able to find many willing partners among such ideologues. How well the Obama administration fares in its efforts will ultimately determine the extent to which it can counter al Qaeda-inspired transnational jihadism -- and how well it can minimize Iran's benefits now that the two have reached an accord.

Read more: Chronology: Key Dynamics Leading to Renewed Sunni Militancy in the Levant | Stratfor
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Central Banks say Global Markets strength does not reflect outlook on: June 29, 2014, 09:48:04 AM

Global Markets' Strength Doesn't Reflect Economic Outlook, Central Banks Say
Investors Could Be Unprepared for Interest-Rate Rises, Says BIS
By Viktoria Dendrinou
June 29, 2014 6:30 a.m. ET

BRUSSELS—Buoyant financial markets are out of kilter with the shaky global economic and geopolitical outlook, the Bank for International Settlements said in its annual report published Sunday.

The warning from the BIS, a consortium of the world's top central banks, comes as financial markets—from stocks to bonds to commodities—have been enjoying a broad-based rally in the first half of 2014, reflecting investor optimism over expansionary central-bank monetary policies.

"Overall, it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets' buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally," the report read.

Investor jubilation stems partly from the commitment by the world's largest central banks, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, to keep interest rates low while economies continue to recover from recession. Markets have been resilient in the face of uneven growth in the U.S. and Europe, as well as political and economic unrest in Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere.

"Financial markets are euphoric, in the grip of an aggressive search for yield…and yet investment in the real economy remains weak while the macroeconomic and geopolitical outlook is still highly uncertain," said Claudio Borio, the head of the BIS's monetary and economic department.

Central bankers meet around every two months at the BIS's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The group doesn't set policy, but rather serves as a forum for central bankers to exchange views about financial markets and the global economy.

While global growth has firmed, the BIS said, it is still below its precrisis levels. The world economy was up 3% in the first quarter of 2014 compared with a year earlier—weaker than the 3.9% average growth rate between 1996 and 2006. In some advanced economies, output, productivity and employment remain below their precrisis peak.

But Mr. Borio said the effectiveness of policies aiming to boost domestic demand—and therefore growth—has been stunted by large overhangs of debt.

Governments in advanced economies have made progress in reducing their fiscal deficits since the crisis but debt levels are higher than ever and still rising. It cited data that showed 2014 debt exceeding 100% of gross domestic product in most major economies, including Italy, Spain, France, the U.S. and the U.K.

In a speech on Sunday, BIS General Manager Jaime Caruana warned that increased debt levels make borrowers' ability to repay more sensitive to a fall in income and interest-rate increases. "Thus, higher debt translates into greater financial fragility and financial cycles that may become increasingly disruptive," he said.

The organization cautioned that while low interest rates may keep service costs low for some time, they don't solve the problem of high debt levels because "by encouraging rather than discouraging the accumulation of debt they amplify the effect of the eventual normalization [of interest rates]."

The BIS voiced concerns that though central banks have signaled they will normalize monetary policy—after six years of low rates—investors may still be unprepared for the consequences.

But the risk of central banks normalizing too late and too gradually, the BIS said, shouldn't be underestimated, mainly due to the policy's diminished effectiveness over time.

"Tellingly, growth has disappointed even as financial markets have roared: The transmission chain seems to be badly impaired," the report said, referring to the "unusually" weak levels of global growth even after six years of extremely accommodative policy.

This is partly because nominal rates are near zero, the report said, meaning central banks cannot reduce them further to boost economic growth. Deleveraging as economic actors try to reduce debts—a so-called balance-sheet recession—has also meant that the financial sector hasn't been boosting its lending to the real economy despite successive interest-rate cuts.

What's more, keeping up ultra-accommodative monetary policy can be a source of turmoil for other economies. Some emerging-market economies and small, open advanced economies have gone through bouts of market turbulence because of loose monetary policy in major advanced countries.

Some of the money these policies have pumped into markets has found its way to emerging economies as investors sought higher-yielding assets, boosting their exchange rates and weakening exports. But when in May last year the Federal Reserve hinted at tapering—curbing its bond-purchasing program—exchange rates and asset prices in emerging markets stumbled.

Returning to normal monetary policy too slowly could also be dangerous for government finances, the BIS warned. "Keeping interest rates unusually low for an unusually long period can lull governments into a false sense of security that delays the needed consolidation," it said, as the glut of cash encourages cheap government borrowing.
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kill the eagles to stop global warming! on: June 28, 2014, 10:27:43 PM
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 28, 2014, 10:10:10 PM


Editor's Note: The following is an internal Stratfor document produced to provide high-level guidance regarding increasing tensions in Israel and Gaza to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.

The ongoing Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers is taking on a much wider dimension than the usual retaliatory action between Israel and Palestinian militant factions. Ever since three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement during the night of June 12, Israel has responded with airstrikes in Gaza and raids in the West Bank in and around Hebron (and Bethlehem, to a lesser extent). Israel has pointedly held Hamas directly responsible for the kidnapping. Hamas has distanced itself from the kidnapping, but Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced the beginning of the third intifada June 23. There are also several indications that this conflict involves more than the usual suspects, with Iran and Russia possibly stoking the flames for their own interests. The following points must be investigated:

    The kidnappings have been claimed by a number of groups, some of whom have not had a history of operating in the Palestinian territories. The first claim for the kidnappings allegedly came June 13 from a branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant based in Hebron calling itself Dawlat al-Islam. Shortly thereafter, an unknown Palestinian organization called Liberators' Battalion of Hebron published a separate claim for the kidnappings via Israeli media. A group calling itself Brigades of Global Jihad posted a claim on a jihadist forum and then withdrew it. Fatah-linked Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade denied that they had ever claimed the kidnapping, despite reports that they had taken responsibility in the immediate aftermath. On June 26, a claim was made by the Hezbollah Brigades, a branch distinct from the Lebanese Hezbollah militant organization, via Gaza-based Amad Press. We need to understand the origin of each of these groups, any connections they may have to Iran and their relations with mainstream militant factions Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as with regional jihadist entities such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. A key question we need to answer is whether the Hamas core command was behind the initial kidnapping or if they are catching up to events in defending their position against competing militant factions.
    There have been reports of a limited call-up of reserves. Significant reserve call-ups can be extraordinarily expensive for a state as small as Israel, and the decision would not be taken lightly. We need details on the number of reserves called up and where forces are being concentrated to assess whether we are likely to see another full-scale invasion of Gaza and/or the West Bank.
    Hamas and Fatah were making bumpy progress toward creating a functional national unity government before the kidnappings, but there are two key players who have an interest in keeping Hamas and Fatah split between the territories: Israel and Iran. Israel benefits from a divided Palestinian territory in which it can negotiate with Fatah while keeping Hamas isolated, thereby allowing Israel to retain the upper hand in any peace negotiations that the United States attempts to push forward. Iran also benefits from keeping the Palestinians split, but for different reasons. Iran was able to develop a close relationship with Hamas when the group was isolated following the 2007 Hamas coup in Gaza. Iran wants to be able to maintain influence in the Palestinian territories via groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other factions. We noted last August that Iran was facilitating weapons shipments to the West Bank via Jordan for operations down the line. That is why it is imperative to drill into the groups claiming the kidnappings to discern which are likely shadow groups and what ties can be traced back to the mainstream Palestinian factions.
    There may be a Russian element to this conflict. Prior to the June 12 kidnapping, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received an invitation to visit Moscow and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegedly to talk about restarting the peace talks (though Russia has little interest in lending the United States a hand on that front). Abbas made the trip to meet with the Russian leadership June 26 in Moscow.
    On June 21, the Israel Defense Forces raided the local branch of Russian media agency RT in the West Bank city of Ramallah. RT Jerusalem shares a building with Palmedia, a media group that the Israel Defense Forces claims is linked to Hamas. Though Palmedia appears to have been the main target of the raid, it is curious that RT's office was also targeted, with their computers and hard drives taken into custody. It is unclear whether or how these developments are related, but we note that Russia has been more engaged in the Middle East than usual at a time when Moscow is keen on creating distractions for the United States. Russian movements surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation thus bear close watching in the coming days.

Read more: Analytic Guidance: Not the Usual Israeli-Palestinian Flare-Up | Stratfor
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mex Cartels operating on US side of border on: June 28, 2014, 10:06:36 PM
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too bad it didn't occur to anyone to trade them for one US Marine on: June 28, 2014, 10:04:35 PM
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Brazilian women's soccer on: June 28, 2014, 09:56:36 PM
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mole at DHS on: June 28, 2014, 09:38:46 PM
239  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Development of the Colt .45 on: June 28, 2014, 09:23:58 PM
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 15 ISIL arrested in Sinai on: June 28, 2014, 07:05:29 PM

Egyptian special forces arrested 15 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants in Sinai on June 28, the Jerusalem Post reported. The group reportedly intended to relay messages and set up rebel cells in Egypt.

Read more: Egypt: 15 Iraqi Rebels Arrested In Sinai | Stratfor
241  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: US Court Ruling creates dilema for Argentine Govt. on: June 28, 2014, 06:59:34 PM
 U.S. Court Ruling Creates Dilemma For Argentine Government
June 27, 2014 | 1505 Print Text Size
U.S. Court Ruling Creates Dilemma For Argentine Government
Attorney for Argentina Carmine Bocuzzi (C) arrives at court for a hearing June 27 in New York. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

The Argentine government found itself in New York District Court on June 27. At stake is whether U.S. courts can force Argentina to default on debt payments owed to the various bondholders who accepted 2005 and 2010 reductions on their Argentine sovereign debt holdings. The ruling could lead to economic hardship in Argentina, creating opportunities for international actors to lend their support, therefore extending their influence in the region.

The government in Argentina is currently not willing to make payment on the full $1.3 billion face value of bonds that it defaulted on during the 2001-2002 economic crisis, an amount that would also include interest. This is the amount at issue in the current court case, which follows a June 12 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow rulings by New York District Court Judge Thomas Griesa to stand. Griesa's decision was based on language in the original bonds that requires equal treatment of bondholders, necessitating Argentina to make payments to the holdouts if the government makes any payments to debt holders. It also permits the holdout bondholders to use court resources to identify Argentine financial assets and freeze them if Argentina does not comply.

Argentina was scheduled to make a June 30 payment set at $900 million, an amount the Argentine government is prepared to pay. Buenos Aires is eager to make payments to the group of exchange bondholders who agreed to the 2005 and 2010 restructuring, but is unwilling to issue immediate, full payment to all of the holdouts. The government has already apparently made an effort to avoid the court ruling and proceed with the June 30 payments by transferring hundreds of millions of dollars into trusteeships with international banks, including $539 million to the Bank of New York Mellon.

Through these deposits, Argentina seeks to demonstrate its willingness to pay exchange bondholders. Judge Griesa, however, ordered Bank of New York Mellon to reject the funds, mandating that they remain in Argentina and asserting that the country must continue negotiations with holdouts. It is likely that Argentina will enter technical default June 30, although this is cushioned by a 30-day grace period.

The impact of this default will be different for Argentina this time. Buenos Aires is not actively issuing debts and the U.S. Supreme Court decision is already impacting the Argentine stock market and secondary market trades of Argentine debt. Argentina's economic situation is fragile, and a further loss of confidence could spur additional capital flight, with negative implications for the value of the Argentine peso. Indeed, the black market rate for the peso is already falling and additional drops in demand could push the government to devalue the currency more steeply.

The dangers of paying the holdouts, however, are more troubling to Argentina than the risk of a default. The debt in the hands of the holdouts involved in the New York court case represent only a fraction of what the government owes in principal and interest -- $1.5 billion out of a $15 billion total. And these holdouts are spread across the globe and include creditors in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom among others. Argentina currently holds around $29 billion in foreign currency reserves, meaning payment in full would be theoretically possible, although it would leave foreign exchange dangerously low given ongoing balance of payment challenges. On top of this, there is a risk that the bondholders who agreed to the 2005 and 2010 bond exchange will then sue Argentina for the full amount of the original bonds based on a clause in the exchange bonds that allows them to do so through 2014. This means that Argentina must delay any kind of settlement with holdouts until at least 2015.

Nevertheless, Argentina will have to pay the holdouts eventually. Declining exports mean that the country is facing a real danger of a financial crisis as foreign reserves decline. In order to manage this risk, Argentina is working to resuscitate its energy sector to mitigate the financial impact of imports, hoping to return to net-exporter status. This, however, will take years if not decades. In the meantime, Argentina will need access to international credit markets, although not at the cost of liquidating half of its foreign reserves to pay off the holdouts. The most likely way that Argentina will navigate this dilemma is to delay making a final settlement of its debts.

The U.S. court rulings are unlikely to have significant political impact within Argentina. Although the dispute may cause further economic tension, no party has an interest in using this issue as leverage to unseat the current government. Elections are approaching in 2015 and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has reached her term limit. Opposition politicians are currently in the early stages of building alliances and strategizing for these pivotal elections -- they do not want the chaos that would accompany the fall of Fernandez' government. General opinion in Argentine political circles is that U.S. courts have acted unusually harshly in dealing with Argentina's default, and that the United States has overstepped its bounds, making it unlikely that the Fernandez government will be blamed for any economic repercussions.

The court case will likely increase tensions in U.S.-Argentine relations. The ruling has already led a number of international players, including Brazil, Russia and the United Nations, to voice concern about the ultimate effects of default on Argentina. As the case progresses, more opportunities could arise for foreign players to express support both rhetorically and concretely. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will meet with Fernandez in Buenos Aires in July while he is in the region for the sixth annual BRICS Summit in Brazil, where further support for Argentina's position could be forthcoming.

Read more: U.S. Court Ruling Creates Dilemma For Argentine Government | Stratfor
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comrade Di Blasio and the Illegals in NYC on: June 28, 2014, 06:33:17 PM
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Eurasia's ongoing crackup on: June 28, 2014, 03:33:42 PM
By Robert D. Kaplan

Eurasia -- from Iberia to the Korean Peninsula -- faces the prospect of epochal change. These disruptions are not always in the headlines, and they obscure vast areas of stability where change is gradual rather than sudden. But at a time of rapid shifts in technology and urban demography, it is to be expected that political identities of the kind that lead to territorial adjustments will undergo transformation. And while in some cases a yearning for liberal democracy will be a driving force of upheaval, in too many cases the driving force will be exclusivist ethnic and sectarian passions anchored in specific geographies. The world's leading opinion pages are consumed by the battle of ideas, but in the early 21st century blood and territory could be more accurate indicators of postmodern geopolitics.

The combination of a transnational European Union and that union's economic decline has helped further ignite calls for Catalan and Scottish separatism from within Spain and the United Kingdom, respectively. Merely the upsurge in talk of such self-determination is serving to enfeeble the reputations of Spain and Great Britain on the world stage. While these divorces -- if they ever occur -- will likely be velvet ones, not so the territorial rearrangements taking place in the Middle East.

Whatever current maps may suggest, Libya no longer exists as a state, and neither do Syria and Iraq. Yemen is barely a state at all, and Kurdistan is long into the process of becoming one. Such dramatic cartographic changes that -- barring a world war -- usually play out over decades and centuries have occurred within the space of just a few years. Though American-led military interventions provided the catalyst for state failures in Libya and Iraq, something more essential was the cause of this epic disruption. That something was suffocating absolutisms, at once fiercely modernizing and fiercely secular, in both Syria and Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Libya. Beneath the carapaces of such centralizing tyrannies lay an utter void of civil society. Thus, as soon as these tyrannies began to buckle the most atavistic ethnic, sectarian and tribal energies came to the fore.

Indeed, as we look at all this it becomes apparent that postmodernism does not necessarily mean a more advanced stage of universal values than modernism. Postmodernism more likely represents a retreat into lethally narrow forms of identity, buttressed by deep religiosity, that are combined with the latest in communications and bomb-making technologies. In this kind of world, optimism is fine so long as it is based on ground-level analysis, not on philosophical abstractions.

East of the Levant we have the soon-to-be-realized specter of an Afghanistan and Pakistan without the stabilizing factor of the U.S. military for the first time in 13 years. Remember that democracy is less about holding elections than about strong institutions, which Afghanistan demonstrably lacks. If Afghanistan becomes a weaker state than it currently is in the coming years, this will further erode the meaning of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border so that the border itself will eventually disappear from future maps. A state only deserves to be fully represented in an atlas if it monopolizes the use of force unto its borders; otherwise the map lies.

Central Asia remains an assemblage of states -- ruled in large measure in a Soviet style -- that are now ripe for disruption as its leaders age, domestic tensions increase, and borders remain averse to ethnic and demographic boundaries. A comparable situation holds true for the calcifying military regime in Myanmar, a country of regionally based ethnic groups in some cases with their own armies. Wherever one looks, it seems, the permanence of frontiers both internal and external cannot be taken for granted.

Meanwhile, in an age of rapidly improving electronic communications, the regime in North Korea cannot have good long-term prospects. In the 20th century, states divided into two parts -- Germany, Vietnam and Yemen -- all reunified under fast-moving, tumultuous circumstances that foreign affairs mandarins had not forecast in advance. A reunified Korean Peninsula, governed from Seoul, that will rearrange the balance of power in northeast Asia and affect the balance of power throughout East Asia simply has to be anticipated at some point.

Finally, there are the two countries that together represent the dominant geography of Eurasia: Russia and China. Both have significant areas inhabited by ethnic minorities often with higher birth rates than the dominant ethnic Russians and Han Chinese. Russia has sizable Muslim regions, primarily in the north Caucasus. As for Ukraine, who knows how mapmakers will depict it in years hence! China has ethnic Mongolians in its north, Muslim Turkic Uighurs in the west and Tibetans in its southwest. In all these cases, resentments against Moscow and Beijing run high. While Western policy elites call for more liberalization to assuage these tensions, the truth may be that it is precisely authoritarianism that is holding these vast states together. Political reform in some vaguely imagined post-Putin era -- or in a post-Communist Party era in China -- may therefore bring not more democracy but more chaos, and new cartographic arrangements. Moreover, if Russia declines in political stability more than China, large areas of Siberia and the Russian Far East are ripe for informal colonization by the much more populous Chinese, again leading to a new map.

The key thing to realize when interpreting Eurasia is how little we know about the realities on the ground rather than how much we know. An era of electronic communication leads to an illusion of knowledge rather than to knowledge itself. How many policy elites know, for instance, to what degree Yemeni chaos is affecting stability in Saudi Arabia's neighboring Asir province? Yet, were Saudi Arabia in the future to become unstable -- affecting world oil and financial markets -- Asir province might have much to do with it. How much do we really know about the situation in the populous and unstable Fergana Valley where several Central Asian countries join? Yet, the Fergana is key to the future of Central Asia. How much do we really know about ethnic militias in Myanmar or about Russia's relationship with ethnic minorities in the fragile state of Moldova? If the breakups of Libya, Syria and Iraq have taught us anything, it is about our degree of ignorance regarding local and tribal realities, not our degree of knowledge or wisdom.

Forecasting begins with geography in the 19th century sense of the word -- that is, an appreciation of landscape, cultural anthropology, natural resources, trade routes and so forth. And geography is now more important than ever. For technology has not negated geography: rather, by shrinking it, it has only made geography more precious. The more we rely on abstract principles of foreign policy and the less we rely on cultural area experts on the ground, the more Eurasia will surprise us. In other words, the more humble we are about what we do know, the less likely we are to be proved wrong.

Read more: Eurasia's Ongoing Crackup | Stratfor
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greenpeace flies over NSA data center in UT on: June 28, 2014, 03:01:04 PM
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Maher: Just go away for now on: June 28, 2014, 02:56:56 PM
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not in a box on: June 28, 2014, 02:49:33 PM
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some interesting comments from Morris on how McCain could have won on: June 28, 2014, 02:41:24 PM
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The CIA and Mossadegh in 1953-- what really happened on: June 28, 2014, 09:23:14 AM
Sent to me by our Big Dog-- some stuff did not print, so for a complete viewing going to the original will be necessary:

July/August 2014
What Really Happened in Iran

The CIA, the Ouster of Mosaddeq, and the Restoration of the Shah
Ray Takeyh

RAY TAKEYH is Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that “in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Obama was referring to the 1953 coup that toppled Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and consolidated the rule of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Obama would go on to remind his audience that Iran had also committed its share of misdeeds against Americans. But he clearly intended his allusion to Washington’s role in the coup as a concession -- a public acknowledgment that the United States shared some of the blame for its long-simmering conflict with the Islamic Republic.

Yet there was a supreme irony to Obama’s concession. The history of the U.S. role in Iran’s 1953 coup may be “well known,” as the president declared in his speech, but it is not well founded. On the contrary, it rests heavily on two related myths: that machinations by the CIA were the most important factor in Mosaddeq’s downfall and that Iran’s brief democratic interlude was spoiled primarily by American and British meddling. For decades, historians, journalists, and pundits have promoted these myths, injecting them not just into the political discourse but also into popular culture: most recently, Argo, a Hollywood thriller that won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture, suggested that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was a belated response to an injustice perpetrated by the United States a quarter century earlier. That version of events has also been promoted by Iran’s theocratic leaders, who have exploited it to stoke anti-Americanism and to obscure the fact that the clergy itself played a major role in toppling Mosaddeq.

In reality, the CIA’s impact on the events of 1953 was ultimately insignificant. Regardless of anything the United States did or did not do, Mosaddeq was bound to fall and the shah was bound to retain his throne and expand his power. Yet the narrative of American culpability has become so entrenched that it now shapes how many Americans understand the history of U.S.-Iranian relations and influences how American leaders think about Iran. In reaching out to the Islamic Republic, the United States has cast itself as a sinner expiating its previous transgressions. This has allowed the Iranian theocracy, which has abused history in a thousand ways, to claim the moral high ground, giving it an unearned advantage over Washington and the West, even in situations that have nothing to do with 1953 and in which Iran’s behavior is the sole cause of the conflict, such as the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program.

All of this makes developing a better and more accurate understanding of the real U.S. role in Iran’s past critically important. It’s far more than a matter of correcting the history books. Getting things right would help the United States develop a less self-defeating approach to the Islamic Republic today and would encourage Iranians -- especially the country’s clerical elite -- to claim ownership of their past.

Day in court: Mohammad Mosaddeq on trial, November 1953.
Day in court: Mohammad Mosaddeq on trial, November 1953. (Getty / Carl Mydans)


In the years following World War II, Iran was a devastated country, recovering from famine and poverty brought on by the war. It was also a wealthy country, whose ample oil reserves fueled the engines of the British Empire. But Iran’s government didn’t control that oil: the wheel was held by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, whose majority shareholder happened to be the British government. By the early 1950s, as assertive nationalism swept the developing world, many Iranians were beginning to see this colonial-era arrangement as an unjust, undignified anachronism.

So strong was the desire to take back control of Iran’s national resources that it united the country’s liberal reformers, its intelligentsia, elements of its clerical establishment, and its middle-class professionals into a coherent political movement. At the center of that movement stood Mosaddeq, an upper-class lawyer who had been involved in Iranian politics from a young age, serving in various ministries and as a member of parliament. Toward the end of World War II, Mosaddeq reemerged on the political scene as a champion of Iranian anticolonialism and nationalism and managed to draw together many disparate elements into his political party, the National Front. Mosaddeq was not a revolutionary; he was respectful of the traditions of his social class and supported the idea of constitutional monarchy. But he also sought a more modern and more democratic Iran, and in addition to the nationalization of Iran’s oil, his party’s agenda called for improved public education, freedom of the press, judicial reforms, and a more representative government.

In April 1951, the Iranian parliament voted to appoint Mosaddeq prime minister. In a clever move, Mosaddeq insisted that he would not assume the office unless the parliament also approved an act he had proposed that would nationalize the Iranian oil industry. Mosaddeq got his way in a unanimous vote, and the easily intimidated shah capitulated to the parliament’s demands. Iran now entered a new and more dangerous crisis.

The United Kingdom, a declining empire struggling to adjust to its diminished influence, saw the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company as a crucial source of energy and profit, as well as a symbol of what little imperial prestige the country had managed to cling to through the end of World War II. So London responded to the nationalization with fury. It warned European companies doing business in Iran to pull out or face retribution, and the still potent British navy began interdicting ships carrying Iranian oil on the grounds that they were transporting stolen cargo. These moves -- coupled with the fact that the Western oil giants, which were siding with London, owned nearly all the tankers then in existence -- managed to effectively blockade Iran’s petroleum exports. By 1952, Iran’s Abadan refinery, the largest in the world at the time, was grinding to a halt.

From the outset of the nationalization crisis, U.S. President Harry Truman had sought to settle the dispute. The close ties between the United States and the United Kingdom did not lead Washington to reflexively side with its ally. Truman had already demonstrated some regard for Iran’s autonomy and national interests. In 1946, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had sought to seize Iran’s northern provinces by refusing to withdraw Soviet forces that were deployed there during the war. Truman objected, insisting on maintaining Iran’s territorial integrity even if it meant rupturing the already frayed U.S. alliance with the Soviets; Stalin backed off. Similarly, when it came to the fight to control Iran’s oil, the Americans played the role of an honest broker. Truman dispatched a number of envoys to Tehran who urged the British to acknowledge the legitimacy of the parliament’s nationalization act while also pressing the Iranians to offer fair compensation for expropriated British assets.

In the meantime, Washington continued providing economic assistance to Iran, as it had ever since the war began -- assistance that helped ease the pain of the British oil blockade. And the Americans dissuaded the British from using military force to compel Iran to relent, as well as rejecting British pleas for a joint covert operation to topple Mosaddeq.

But Truman’s mediation fell short, owing more to Mosaddeq’s intransigence than any American missteps. Mosaddeq, it seemed, considered no economic price too high to protect Iran’s autonomy and national pride. In due course, Mosaddeq and his allies rejected every U.S. proposal that preserved any degree of British participation in Iran’s oil sector. It turned out that defining Iran’s oil interests in existential terms had handcuffed the prime minister: any compromise was tantamount to forfeiting the country’s sovereignty.

Homecoming king: the shah returns to Iran, August 1953.
Homecoming king: the shah returns to Iran, August 1953. (Getty / Carl Mydans)


By 1952, the conflict had brought Iran’s economy to the verge of collapse. Tehran had failed to find ways to get its oil around the British embargo and, deprived of its key source of revenue, was facing mounting budget deficits and having difficulty meeting its payroll. Washington began to fear that through his standoff with the British, Mosaddeq had allowed the economy to deteriorate so badly that his continued rule would pave the way for Tudeh, Iran’s communist party, to challenge him and take power.

And indeed, as the dispute dragged on, Mosaddeq was faced with rising dissent at home. The cause of nationalization was still popular, but the public was growing weary of the prime minister’s intransigence and his refusal to accept various compromise arrangements. The prime minister dealt with the chorus of criticism by expanding his mandate through constitutionally dubious means, demanding special powers from the parliament and seeking to take charge of the armed forces and the Ministry of War, both of which had long been under the shah’s control.

Even before the Western intelligence services devised their plots, Mosaddeq’s conduct had already alienated his own coalition partners. The intelligentsia and Iran’s professional syndicates began chafing under the prime minister’s growing authoritarianism. Mosaddeq’s base of support within the middle classes, alarmed at the economy’s continued decline, began looking for an alternative and drifted toward the royalist opposition, as did the officer corps, which had suffered numerous purges.

Mosaddeq’s supporters among the clergy, who had endorsed the nationalization campaign and had even encouraged the shah to oppose the United Kingdom’s imperial designs, now began to reconsider. The clergy had never been completely comfortable with Mosaddeq’s penchant for modernization and had come to miss the deference they received from the conservative and insecure shah. Watching Iran’s economy collapse and fearing, like Washington, that the crisis could lead to a communist takeover, religious leaders such as Ayatollah Abul-Qasim Kashani began to subtly shift their allegiances. (Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran’s theocratic rulers have attempted to obscure the inconvenient fact that, at a critical juncture, the mullahs sided with the shah.)

The crisis finally came to a head in February 1953, when the royal court, fed up with Mosaddeq’s attempts to undermine the monarchy, suddenly announced that the shah intended to leave the country for unspecified medical reasons, knowing that the public would interpret the move as a signal of the shah’s displeasure with Mosaddeq. The gambit worked, and news of the monarch’s planned departure caused a serious confrontation between Mosaddeq and his growing list of detractors. Kashani joined with disgruntled military officers and purged politicians and publicly implored the shah to stay. Protests engulfed Tehran and many provincial cities, and crowds even attempted to ransack Mosaddeq’s residence. Sensing the public mood, the shah canceled his trip.

This episode is particularly important, because it demonstrated the depth of authentic Iranian opposition to Mosaddeq; there is no evidence that the protests were engineered by the CIA. The demonstrations also helped the anti-Mosaddeq coalition solidify. Indeed, it would be this same coalition, with greater support from the armed forces, that would spearhead Mosaddeq’s ouster six months later.


The events of February made an impression on a frustrated Washington establishment. The CIA reported to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who had inherited the Iranian dilemma when he took office a month earlier, that “the institution of the Crown may have more popular backing than we expected.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles cabled the U.S. embassy in Tehran that “there appears to be [a] substantial and relatively courageous opposition group both within and outside [the] Majlis [Iran’s parliament]. We gather Army Chiefs and many civilians [are] still loyal to the Shah and would act if he gave them positive leadership, or even if he merely acquiesced in [a] move to install [a] new government.”

After the protests, the Majlis became the main seat of anti-Mosaddeq agitation. Since Mosaddeq’s ascension to the premiership, his seemingly arbitrary decision-making, his inability to end the oil crisis, and the narrowing of his circle to a few trusted aides had gradually alienated many parliamentarians. In response, the prime minister decided to eliminate the threat by simply dissolving the Majlis. Doing so required executing a ploy of dubious legality, however: on July 14, all the National Front deputies loyal to Mosaddeq resigned their posts at once, depriving the chamber of the necessary quorum to function. Mosaddeq then called for a national referendum to decide the fate of the paralyzed legislature. But this was hardly a good-faith, democratic gesture; the plebiscite was marred by boycotts, voting irregularities, and mob violence, and the results surprised no one: Mosaddeq’s proposal to dissolve parliament was approved by 99 percent of the voters. Mosaddeq won his rigged election, but the move cost him what remained of his tattered legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Mosaddeq seemed determined to do everything he could to confirm Washington’s worst fears about him. The prime minister thought that he could use U.S. concerns about the potential for increased Soviet influence in Iran to secure greater assistance from Washington. During a meeting in January, Mosaddeq had warned Loy Henderson, the U.S. ambassador, that unless the United States provided him with sufficient financial aid, “there will be [a] revolution in Iran in 30 days.” Mosaddeq also threatened to sell oil to Eastern bloc countries and to reach out to Moscow for aid if Washington didn’t come through. These threats and entreaties reached a climax in June, when Mosaddeq wrote Eisenhower directly to plead for increased U.S. economic assistance, insisting that if it were not given right away, “any steps that might be taken tomorrow to compensate for the negligence of today might well be too late.” Eisenhower took nearly a month to respond and then firmly told Iran’s prime minister that the only path out of his predicament was to settle the oil dispute with the United Kingdom.

By that point, however, Washington was already actively considering a plan the British had developed to push Mosaddeq aside. The British intelligence agency, MI6, had identified and reached out to a network of anti-Mosaddeq figures who would be willing to take action against the prime minster with covert American and British support. Among them was General Fazlollah Zahedi, a well-connected officer who had previously served in Mosaddeq’s cabinet but had left after becoming disillusioned with the prime minister’s leadership and had immersed himself in opposition politics. Given its history of interference in Iran, the British government also boasted an array of intelligence sources, including members of parliament and journalists, whom it had subsidized and cultivated. London could also count on a number of influential bazaar merchants who, in turn, had at their disposal thugs willing to instigate violent street protests.

The CIA took a rather dim view of these British agents, believing that they were “far overstated and oversold.” Nevertheless, by May, the agency had embraced the basic outlines of a British plan to engineer the overthrow of Mosaddeq. The U.S. embassy in Tehran was also on board: in a cable to Washington, Henderson assured the Eisenhower administration that “most Iranian politicians friendly to the West would welcome secret American intervention which would assist them in attaining their individual or group political ambitions.”

The joint U.S.-British plot for covert action was code-named TPAJAX. Zahedi emerged as the linchpin of the plan, as the Americans and the British saw him as Mosaddeq’s most formidable rival. The plot called for the CIA and MI6 to launch a propaganda campaign aimed at raising doubts about Mosaddeq, paying journalists to write stories critical of the prime minister, charging that he was corrupt, power hungry, and even of Jewish descent -- a crude attempt to exploit anti-Semitic prejudices, which the Western intelligence agencies wrongly believed were common in Iran at the time. Meanwhile, a network of Iranian operatives working for the Americans and the British would organize demonstrations and protests and encourage street gangs and tribal leaders to provoke their followers into committing acts of violence against state institutions. All this was supposed to further inflame the already unstable situation in the country and thus pave the way for the shah to dismiss Mosaddeq.

Indeed, the shah would be the plot’s central actor, since he retained the loyalty of the armed forces and only he had the authority to dismiss Mosaddeq. “If the Shah were to give the word, probably more than 99% of the officers would comply with his orders with a sense of relief and with the hope of attaining a state of stability,” a U.S. military attaché reported from Tehran in the spring of 1953.


On July 11, Eisenhower approved the plan, and the CIA and MI6 went to work. The Western intelligence agencies certainly found fertile ground for their machinations, as the turmoil sweeping Iran had already seriously compromised Mosaddeq’s standing. It appeared that all that was left to do was for the shah to officially dismiss the prime minister.

But enlisting the Iranian monarch proved more difficult than the Americans and the British had initially anticipated. On the surface, the shah seemed receptive to the plot, as he distrusted and even disdained his prime minister. But he was also clearly reluctant to do anything to further destabilize his country. The shah was a tentative man by nature and required much reassurance before embarking on a risky course. The CIA did manage to persuade his twin sister, Princess Ashraf, to press its case with her brother, however. Also urging the shah to act were General Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., a U.S. military officer who had trained Iran’s police force and enjoyed a great deal of influence in the country, and Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a CIA official who had helped devise the plot. Finally, on August 13, 1953, the shah signed a royal decree dismissing Mosaddeq and appointing Zahedi as the new prime minister.

Zahedi and his supporters wanted to make sure that Mosaddeq received the decree in person and thus waited for more than two days before sending the shah’s imperial guards to deliver the order to the prime minister’s residence at a time when Zahedi was certain Mosaddeq would be there. By that time, however, someone had tipped Mosaddeq off. He refused to accept the order and instead had his security detail arrest the men the shah had sent. Zahedi went into hiding, and the shah fled the country, going first to Iraq and then to Italy. The plot, it seemed, had failed. Mosaddeq took to the airwaves, claiming that he had disarmed a coup, while neglecting to mention that the shah had dismissed him from office. Indeed, it was Mosaddeq, not the shah or his foreign backers, who failed to abide by Iran’s constitution.

After the apparent failure of the coup, a mood of resignation descended on Washington and London. According to an internal review prepared by the CIA in 1954, after Mosaddeq’s refusal to follow the shah’s order, the U.S. Department of State determined that the operation had been “tried and failed,” and the official British position was equally glum: “We must regret that we cannot consider going on fighting.” General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s confidant and wartime chief of staff, who was now serving as undersecretary of state, had the unenviable task of informing the president. In a note to Eisenhower, Smith wrote:

The move failed. . . . Actually, it was a counter-coup, as the Shah acted within his constitutional power in signing the [decree] replacing Mosaddeq. The old boy wouldn’t accept this and arrested the messenger and everybody else involved that he could get his hands on. We now have to take a whole new look at the Iranian situation and probably have to snuggle up to Mosaddeq if we’re going to save anything there.

The White House, the leadership of the CIA, and the U.S. embassy in Tehran all shared the view that the plot had failed and that it was time to move on. It seems that some operatives in the CIA station in Tehran thought there was still a chance that Zahedi could succeed, if he asserted himself. The station might even have maintained some contact with Zahedi; it’s not clear whether it did or not. What is clear is that by that point, the attempt to salvage the coup became very much an Iranian initiative.


In the aftermath of the failed coup, chaos reigned in Tehran and political fortunes shifted quickly. The Tudeh Party felt that its time had finally come, and its members poured into the streets, waving red flags and destroying symbols of the monarchy. The more radical members of the National Front, such as Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi, also joined the fray with their own denunciations of the shah. An editorial in Bakhtar-e Emruz, a newspaper Fatemi controlled, castigated the royal court as “a brothel, a filthy, corrupt place”; another editorial in the same newspaper warned the shah that the nation “is thirsty for revenge and wants to see you on the gallows.” Such talk alarmed military officers and clerics and also outraged many ordinary Iranians who still respected the monarchy. Mosaddeq himself did not call for disbanding the monarchy. Despite his attempts to expand his powers at the shah’s expense, Mosaddeq remained loyal to his vision of a constitutional monarchy.

The shah issued a statement from exile declaring that he had not abdicated the throne and stressing the unconstitutionality of Mosaddeq’s claim to power. Meanwhile, Zahedi and his coconspirators continued their resistance. Zahedi reached out to armed military units in the capital and in the provinces that remained loyal to the shah and told their commanders to prepare for mobilization. Zahedi also sought to widely broadcast the shah’s decree dismissing Mosaddeq and appointing Zahedi himself as prime minister, and the CIA station in Tehran appears to have helped distribute the message through both domestic and foreign media.

The efforts to publicize the shah’s decree and Mosaddeq’s studied silence are instructive. Many accounts of the coup, including Roosevelt’s, cast the shah as an unpopular and illegitimate ruler who maintained the throne only with the connivance of foreigners. But if that were the case, then Zahedi and his allies would not have worked so hard to try to publicize the shah’s preferences. The fact that they did suggests that the shah still enjoyed a great deal of public and institutional support, at least in the immediate aftermath of Mosaddeq’s countercoup; indeed, the news of the shah’s departure provoked uprisings throughout the country.

These demonstrations did not fundamentally alter the views of U.S. representatives in Iran. As Henderson later recalled, he initially did not take the turmoil very seriously and cabled the State Department that “it would probably have little significance.” Momentum soon built within Iran, however. The clergy stepped into the fray, with mullahs inveighing against Mosaddeq and the National Front. Kashani and other major religious figures urged their supporters to take to the streets. Unlike some of the demonstrations that had taken place earlier in the summer, these protests were not the work of the CIA’s and MI6’s clients. A surprised official at the U.S. embassy reported that the crowds “appeared to be led and directed by civilians rather than military. Participants not of hoodlum type, customarily predominant in recent demonstrations in Tehran. They seemed to come from all classes of people including workers, clerks, shopkeepers, students, et cetera.” A CIA assessment noted that “the flight of [the] Shah brought home to the populace in a dramatic way how far Mosaddeq had gone, and galvanized the people into an irate pro-Shah force.”

Mosaddeq was determined to halt the revolutionary surge and commanded the military to restore order. Instead, many soldiers joined in the demonstrations, as chants of “Long live the shah!” echoed in the capital. On August 19, the army chief of staff, General Taqi Riahi, who had stayed loyal to Mosaddeq until then, telephoned the prime minister to confess that he had lost control of many of his troops and of the capital city. Royalist military units took over Tehran’s main radio station and several important government ministries. Seeing his options narrowing, Mosaddeq went into hiding in a neighbor’s house. But the prime minister was too much of a creature of the establishment to remain on the run for long, and he soon turned himself in. A few months later, Mosaddeq was convicted of treason, for which the mandatory punishment was execution. However, given his age, his long-standing service to the country, and his role in nationalizing Iran’s oil industry, the sentence was commuted to three years in prison. In practice, he would go on to serve a life sentence, spending the remaining 14 years of his life confined to his native village.

Mosaddeq was a principled politician with deep reverence for Iran’s institutions and constitutional order. He had spent his entire public life defending the rule of law and the separation of powers. But the pressures of governing during a crisis accentuated troubling aspects of his character. His need for popular acclaim blinded him to compromises that could have resolved the oil conflict with the United Kingdom and thus protected Iran’s economy. Worse, by 1953, Mosaddeq -- the constitutional parliamentarian and champion of democratic reform -- had turned into a populist demagogue: rigging referendums, intimidating his rivals, disbanding parliament, and demanding special powers.

Popular lore gets two things right: Mosaddeq was indeed a tragic figure, and a victim. But his tragedy was that he couldn’t find a way out of a predicament that he himself was largely responsible for creating. And more than anyone else, he was a victim of himself.


Since 1953, and especially since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah, the truth about the coup has been obscured by self-serving narratives concocted by Americans and Iranians alike. The Islamic Republic has done much to propagate the notion that the coup and the conspiracy against Mosaddeq demonstrated an implacable American hostility to Iran. The theocratic revolutionaries have been assisted in this distortion by American accounts that grossly exaggerate the significance of the U.S. role in pushing Mosaddeq from power. Chief among these is the version that appears in Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizing 1979 book, Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran. In his Orientalist rendition, Roosevelt landed in Tehran with a few bags of cash and easily manipulated the benighted Iranians into carrying out Washington’s schemes.

Contrary to Roosevelt’s account, the documentary record reveals that the Eisenhower administration was hardly in control and was in fact surprised by the way events played out. On the eve of the shah’s triumph, Henderson reported in a cable to Washington that the real cause of the coup’s success was that “most armed forces and great numbers [of] Iranian civilians [are] inherently loyal to [the] Shah whom they have been taught to believe is [a] symbol of national unity as well as of [the] stability of the country.” As Iran underwent its titanic internal struggle, even the CIA seemed to be aware that its own machinations had proved relatively unimportant. On August 21, Charles Cabell, the agency’s acting director, reported to Eisenhower that “an unexpectedly strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mosaddeq’s Government has resulted, according to late dispatches from Tehran, in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah and his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.”

In addition to overstating the American and British hand in orchestrating Mosaddeq’s downfall and the shah’s restoration, the conventional narrative of the coup neglects the fact that the shah was still popular in the early 1950s. He had not yet become the megalomaniac of the 1970s, but was still a young, hesitant monarch deferential to Iran’s elder statesmen and grand ayatollahs and respectful of the limits of his powers.

But the mythological version of the events of 1953 has persisted, partly because since the Islamic Revolution, making the United States out to be the villain has served the interests of Iran’s leaders. Another reason for the myth’s survival is that in the aftermath of the debacle in Vietnam and in the wake of congressional investigations during the mid-1970s that revealed the CIA’s involvement in covert attempts to foment coups overseas, many Americans began to question the integrity of their institutions and the motives of their government; it hardly seemed far-fetched to assume that the CIA had been the main force behind the coup in Iran.

Whatever the reason for the persistence of the mythology about 1953, it is long past time for the Americans and the Iranians to move beyond it. As Washington and Tehran struggle to end their protracted enmity, it would help greatly if the United States no longer felt the need to keep implicitly apologizing for its role in Mosaddeq’s ouster. As for the Islamic Republic, at a moment when it is dealing with internal divisions and uncertainties about its future, it would likewise help for it to abandon its outdated notions of victimhood and domination by foreigners and acknowledge that it was Iranians themselves who were the principal protagonists in one of the most important turning points in their country’s history.
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249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Salmon helped by human intervention? on: June 28, 2014, 08:39:32 AM
Sorry, too busy yesterday to respond.

There are three major pacific ocean cycles at work here. The PDO (Pacific decadal Oscillation), the multi-decadal 30 year, and 60 year cycles. The year 2012 saw very weak salmon numbers in the northern Pacific, while Monterey bay had the best run since the 'late 40's.
Endless salmon limits all season long. A friend has a sportfishing charter business on Prince of Wales Island, the next island above the spot where the iron sulfate was dumped. The year 2013 was a salmon desert in the Monterey Bay (I landed five for the season), while the Prince of Wales/Queen Charolette Islands had huge numbers. So did the Eureka, California area. In other words, the fish have tails, and move around as their food source population ebbs and grows.

The iron sulfate did create a planktonic bloom that enhanced forage fish production in a very limited area near the dump site. The large return of Pink Salmon to the area (pinks being the most populous species in S.E. Alaska) has to do with the two year oceanic life cycle of these fish. Depending on geographic location, the Pink Salmon population peaks in either odd or even years. One year of weak runs followed by strong runs the next. The 72 million strong Fraser river sockeye return mentioned was the result of the previous year being the weakest in recent memory. Sockeye have a different life cycle than pinks, and there was a lot of larger than normal fish in that 72 mil run. Most folks in the know attribute this to the higher than normal water temperatures in the Fraser the previous year. An extra year of feeding at sea, and you have two years worth of fish returning the same year. I've witnessed this pattern of boom/bust in salmon populations my entire life, and the author's attempt to attribute the upshift in runs to the teeny tiny plankton bloom created by the Zubrin dump is either a product of ignorance or political spin.



What do you think Ray?
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Euro reports show NSA's successes on: June 28, 2014, 08:35:17 AM

European Reports Show NSA's Successes
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
June 24, 2014

Few events in recent years have sparked the kind of global outrage that accompanied Edward Snowden's revelations, through documents stolen from the National Security Agency, that the organization had been spying on millions of private citizens around the world. Political leaders immediately demanded explanations. Pundits argued the wisdom and constitutionality of tracking private phone calls and e-mails. Government committees were organized, editorials scrawled, fury unleashed, investigations demanded. And all the while, President Obama and the NSA jointly insisted that the program had saved countless lives, preventing numerous terrorist attacks in America, Europe, and the entire Middle East-North Africa region.

Now the results of some of those investigations are in. The findings: Washington was right all along. NSA programs in Europe – and specifically its PRISM project – have now been confirmed to have stayed dozens of terror attacks across the continent, and helped America kill suspected terrorists abroad. Indeed, a report published last month by the Dutch agency responsible for overseeing Dutch intelligence states clearly that "thanks to PRISM, 26 attacks (in Europe, including one in the Netherlands), were neutralized."

Details have not been released.

And a report from Germany's Der Spiegel shows that US/German cooperation on the PRISM program prevented attacks on German soil, as well.

All this comes just as Europol has released its terrorism findings for 2013. According to that report, "the majority of EU Member States continue to consider religiously inspired terrorism as a major threat," as evidenced by "two attacks and several disrupted plots in 2013 and an increase in arrests for religiously inspired terrorism from 159 in 2012 to 216 in 2013." (Total terror-related arrests for 2013 was 535, 143 of which involved religiously inspired terrorists in France alone.) It is worth noting that the number of religious-inspired arrests in 2013 Europe-wide was nearly double the number in 2009.

Nonetheless, European criticism of PRISM has been vehement since the Guardian first published the stolen documents, which Snowden provided to blogger-cum-journalist Glenn Greenwald, then a freelancer for the British daily. German Chancellor Angela Merkel allegedly compared American intelligence to the Stasi. As recently as two weeks ago, Belgium threatened to sue the USA for spying.

Now it appears Europe's own intelligence agencies not only were aware of the program (despite their initial denials), but fully cooperated with it. A document from the Dutch Parliament, for instance, stated that the "1.8 million metadata records were collected by Dutch agencies AIVD and MIVD in their efforts to combat terrorism and foreign military operations."

Belgian officials – the same officials, in fact, who now feign shock and indignation – also admit that not only did they work with the NSA, but that the NSA provided them with information that allowed them to prevent three terror attacks. Without the NSA's help, they said, they never could have done it.

Similarly, France – the country that seems, based on Europol's records, to have benefitted most from its alliance with the PRISM program – played the "shocked and appalled" card when Snowden's revelations became public. And yet, the New York Times reported as early as last November: "the facts of the N.S.A. data collection in Europe have been known for months, which led two nonprofit groups that oppose the spying to describe it as 'astonishing' and 'cowardly' that the French government would portray itself as not knowing about the surveillance. It also became clear over the summer that France's espionage agency, the General Directorate for External Security, carried out data collection on French citizens without clear legal authority, suggesting that although the technology used by the United States may be more sophisticated, electronic eavesdropping as an antiterrorism and anticrime tool is broadly practiced."

Now it appears that Germany, the hub of the NSA's European operations, was a willing and integral part of the program as well. According to Der Spiegel, "Cooperation between Germany's foreign intelligence services, the BND, and America's NSA is deeper than previously believed. […] German intelligence agencies, for their part, consider their cooperation with the NSA to be indispensable – for counterterrorism efforts, for the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and for the battle against organized crime." Moreover, between 2012, and 2013, Der Spiegel reports, "some three million items of content data, or intercepted conversations and messages, were sent to the United States each month."

In addition, the BND itself seems to refute the accusation that the US spied on Germany – confirming all the statements the White House and NSA have made to that effect.

Der Spiegel's in-depth coverage also outlines the parameters of much of the surveillance, noting that 'most of the targets monitored jointly by the BND and NSA are in Africa and Afghanistan – or, in other words, precisely at the heart of some of the world's most dangerous Islamic terrorist organizations.

Does all this really matter?


First and foremost, it reconfirms the serious threat of Islamic terrorism in Europe – one so dire that European intelligence agencies are willing to push the limits of their privacy laws in efforts to combat it. It demonstrates the extent to which international cooperation has allowed Western forces to kill terrorist leaders – and to do so with extraordinary accuracy. And it shows, finally, the powerful unity of Western intelligence forces in the battle against Islamic terrorism. It is a unity clearly needed (as recent events in Iraq make clear) when hundreds, possibly thousands of European nationals are joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria, and are likely to bring their extremism – and warfare knowledge – back home with them. So long as such cooperation can continue, we can remain safe. It is time to be honest about what is being done, and why it is needed. It is time to stop the theatrics of indignation, end these frivolous internal battles and get back to winning the war.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.
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